VideoFive reasons to catch Camerata Nova doing The Full Monte
Posted by Ross Brownlee, music director | Thursday April 4, 2013
Camerata Nova will perform Monteverdi's "Vespers of 1610" (Chris Black)
There's something so magical about it.
—Ross Brownlee, conductor
Camerata Nova is all set to present Claudio Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 at Westminster Church on April 6 and 7. It's a mammoth piece in 13 movements, considered the finest work in classical music before the time of Bach.
But they're not dong it alone, the choir will be augmented by 14 instrumentalists from all over North America.
Ross Brownlee will conduct the production and he's excited beyond belief about being able to bring one of his favourite works to a Winnipeg audience.
SCENE asked him to offer up five reasons why everyone should attend:
1. This will be a Manitoba premiere! Many people have heard little bits of the piece, but to hear it done from start to finish will be amazing. Manitoba doesn't present a lot of music from before the time of Bach, so to be able to be part of bringing this into my home community is enormously exciting. I think people are hungry for it.
2. The sackbuts are coming!We have period instruments as they would have been heard in Monteverdi's time, including cornetto, theorbo (like a large lute), portative (portable) organ and five string instruments strung with gut strings (cat gut) rather than metal, plus the famed sackbut.
This is what a sackbut looks like (brassark.com)
Everyone loves the sackbut, or at least saying the word. It's the precursor to the trombone. The word originates from the old French word sacquer,to push and bouter, to pull, so it was a representation very literally of the slide going in and out -- a push-pull instrument. Then the English elided those two words to make sackbut, which is kind of fun.
It's a stunning instrument. In its day, in the 16th century, it was primarily used as an instrument to go alongside the human voice. So it's softer, it's more lyrical, it's a more expressive instrument, so it blends stunningly with voices.
3. The music will absolutely transport you! Monteverdi brilliantly takes you on this little voyage if you let yourself be taken away by it. It's like setting the reset button on life. There are always those stresses and struggles in life, but hearing this music will shoot you out the other end really feeling better. There's something so magical about it.
4. There's lots of improvisation. It's really like what jazz players now do. Monteverdi gives a very clear line but it would have been traditional for people at the time to take that line and expound on it, make it bigger, decorate it, so that it becomes very much his or her own. And each performance will be slightly different because the ornamentation is done on the spot.
Some of the singers are having fun with each other because there are many times when there will be an echo effect. So the first singer will lay out a decoration, and often tongue in cheek, will look at the other person who then has to copy what he or she has done.
5. Variety. The work has so many different elements! First there's the sheer excitement of the opening instrumental fanfare. We have chant, we have operatic solos, instrumental interludes, then the most passionate, almost erotic solo for tenor featuring the finest in vocal technique and virtuosity. So we have these radically different styles, yet they all work together. I think he perfectly crafts this journey, never lets it get stale.
Catch Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 with Camerata Nova at Westminster United Church on April 6 at 8:00 p.m. and April 7 at 3:00 p.m.